In celebration of the "Hamilton" Lancaster bomber taking to the skies for the first time this year, I thought it might be a good time to re-post pieces I've written about Royal Air Force 626 Squadron and my father's experiences therein.
From September 27th, 2010
Aircrew - RAF No. 626 Squadron Lancaster 1945
Further to my posts below, here is some information provided to me courtesy of Dave Stapleton of "The 626 Squadron Research Project". Here is the roster of my dad's crew-mates on a 626 Squadron Lancaster bomber:
Pilot Officer A R Screen - RAF - Pilot
Flying Officer R J Lovell - RCAF - Navigator
Warrant Officer E A Ellum - RAF - Wireless Operator
Flying Officer D H Mitchell - RCAF - Bomb Aimer
Sergeant W R Bradley - RAF - Flight Engineer
Sergeant H W St. Laurent - RCAF - Mid-Upper Gunner
Sergeant C Rodger - RCAF - Rear Gunner
As indicated by the listing, RAF bomber aircrews were made up of men from different Commonwealth countries, not just from the U.K. Hence four Canadians. If memory serves, my father told me that Sergeant Rodger was from Toronto.
Those guys were a brave bunch. When I was in my late teens or early 20s, I would bellyache something like: "Ohh... where's the bus? My feet are cold." Okay, jerk, try the following: Cold or even frostbitten hands (if you were a gunner); flak exploding all around; getting 'coned' in searchlights over a city; coming under attack from a lurking night fighter, with your pilot sending your bomber into a violent corkscrew maneuver -- as the gunners open fire and fill the inside of the fuselage with fumes of cordite -- to increase your chances of seeing home that night; a bomb dropped by a friendly bomber above hitting your own aircraft, and right beside where you are sitting (that happened to my dad on a trip); wondering if you might end up bobbing about on the North Sea in the middle of the night, or having to bail out over enemy territory....
Those cold feet don't seem to be so bad, after all.